Friday, February 18, 2011

Unisaw - More Paint and Some De-Crudding

Atlanta has had some exceptionally beautiful weather the last few days - combine that with my lack of a job - and suddenly stuff gets done that's been waiting in the wings for years. I'm finally making some progress on the Unisaw rebuild - I've got most of the interior guts primed and painted (still plan a second coat of Rustoleum "Machine Gray"). I also got back into the paint removal on the case.

Shiny New Gray Paint
More Gray Paint

Even More Gray Paint
 I also had a chance to work on the front Door latch - this is what it looks like cleaned-up (still need to clean up the knobs):

With the weather so nice I drug out the case - which I had started to media blast sometime last year but didn't get very far. I first tried to use stripper but there's so much old paint that it basically laughed at the stuff - I tried a couple of coats and only got about half way through the paint layers with scraping. Much too slow a process for me. I then started media blasting but with only a single stage compressor it too was excruciatingly slow (the pressure would drop and you end up sitting there waiting for it to build back up, remove another inch or two then repeat. After the first time spending about 2 hours and only getting about 10% removed I gave up).

Finally, while doing some cleanup in my shop, inspiration hit. I came across a braided cup grinder that I got in a mess of parts in a trade. I thought.... "hmm - wonder if this will fit in an angle grinder?" - I found my $10 Harbor Freight Angle Grinder, drug everything outside and stared going to town.

The cup in comparison to the grinder is just massive - probably why that little thing died after about an hour. It got to the point where it started smoking and all the torque was gone as soon as the brush hit the metal. Oh well - for a $10 grinder it worked plenty long enough for me, especially considering that I originally bought it for a single job (removing the top of a toilet flange in cast iron) so it paid for itself the first time I used it. I'll try replacing the brushes before donating to Goodwill. I got out my Makita angle grinder - funny as it's rated the same as the HF version (obvious knock-off) but the difference in torque is simply amazing. I learned that if one of these gets away from you you back away and unplug from the extension cord. That spinning brush wrecked havoc on the leaves and dug a furrow in the ground, slinging dirt everywhere. Happened more than once as my arms started to get tired (on the inside of the cabinet).

Twisted Wire Cup of Wrath

RIP Harbor Freight Grinder
 To give you an idea of what I was working against - I noticed while grinding that the odor it was giving up was the smell of bondo - I'm wondering if at some time in the past someone just coated the whole case in bondo. It would explain the thickness (over 1/16" in most areas) and the red color.

I had to stop after a couple of hours for a phone interview (which went very well - have an in-person interview next week as a result). For about 2 1/2 hours worth of work, I was able to get 99% of the paint, rust and crud off - only needing to work the corners and edges to complete the removal. This method was so much cleaner and faster than media blasting that I would recommend it to anyone - just make sure you have earplugs, especially when you're working on the inside of the cabinet.

-- John

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